Thursday, September 10, 2009

Warm kitchen memories and figs...

There are certain things that always make me miss the south. Being a born and bred southern girl from Mississippi one of my best memories and joys, when it comes food this time of year is figs. I grew up with figs as something my Mom and Grandmother preserved and canned every year, then brought them out for special occasions and sometimes just because. When we moved to Maryland some years ago, one of the first things my Mom did was to plant fig trees, so we wouldn't miss that special treat.
I loved to sit and watch them cook up all the figs and stuff them hot into the Ball jars. It is a fun process that begins with picking the ripe figs, washing them and placing them in a large pot with equal amounts of sugar. The best preserves are made, for example, with 5 pounds of figs to 5 pounds of sugar. We also slice 2 whole lemons for the 5 and 5 mixture and add them to the pot with a cup of water. (You can of course use any combo you may have say 10 and 10)
Cook them on a low boil for around 1 hour or until they have cooked down as you like them to be. Some people like theirs almost still whole and others, like my family, like them cooked until they are rich and chunky and have a deep caramel color. This is a treat for anytime for me and my family. I also love having a supply in the pantry, when I want to take a special goodie to a friends for dinner, or it's a cool fall or winter Sunday morning. I will slide a pan of homemade biscuits in the oven, put a big pot of tea on the stove to brew and empty a jar of the richest, deep amber colored figs into a pretty bowl, feeling like I am in my Mom's kitchen and being hugged by the goodness of it all. It is something very special to me as I bite into the warm biscuit, smothered in the figs, and remember the little girl so excited to share the love that comes from the three generations of southern women and those very special figs.
Do you have special kitchen memories as a child? I would love to hear about them so please share them in the comments.

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